Growing Our Own
With ever-increasing enrolment of Indigenous students across our five Indigenous Catholic Community Schools (ICCS), there is an ongoing challenge for these schools to attract, develop and retain skilled, experienced leaders and teachers. High staff turnover makes it difficult for schools in remote communities to deliver quality teaching by experienced teachers who have an understanding of the local environment and who can maintain the continuity of program delivery.
Catholic Education Northern Territory (CEO) in partnership with Charles Darwin University (CDU) has established a joint-venture approach to the preparation of Indigenous teachers, called ‘Growing Our Own'. This two-way approach to teacher preparation for NT Catholic schools was established in response to Closing the Gap and the Australian Government Emergency Response (AGER).
7:30 News Report - Indigenous teachers of the future
Why Growing Our Own?
Over recent years many trained Indigenous teachers have been lost from the system, and in the coming years this situation will be exacerbated by the retirement of a large number of women. Additionally, fewer Indigenous people are entering teacher education programs and applying for teaching positions.
We believe that local Indigenous teachers are best placed to deliver and plan the curriculum around Indigenous languages and culture that best serve the needs of their students. In general, Indigenous teachers are also more likely to stay working at their local school than are non-resident contract teachers, thereby ensuring the continuity in education delivery and the links with the community.
There currently exists a relatively large number of Indigenous Teacher Assistants within the communities, some of whom have great potential to become teachers. There is a further untapped pool of Indigenous staff working in schools (e.g. administration) who are interested in teaching but find the current teacher education courses inaccessible for a range of reasons.
Growing Our Own aims to formally train these prospective Indigenous teachers within the communities so that, in time, they may provide greater education opportunites for Indigenous children.
About the program
The target schools for the Growing Our Own program are:
- Ltyente Apurte Catholic School (Santa Teresa)
- Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic Primary School (Bathurst Island)
- Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr Catholic College, (Port Keats)
- St Francis Xavier Catholic School (Daly River)
- St Joseph's Catholic College (Katherine)
- Xavier Catholic College (Bathurst Island)
The group of students participating in the Growing Our Own Project comprise Indigenous staff currently employed as Assistant teachers, Teacher Aides or staff in similar capacities.
The program is delivered over a three year period and involves on-site delivery by CDU staff, and mentoring by a designated classroom teacher, who in turn is supported in his/her cultural learning by the Indigenous student teacher. This two-way approach to learning allows the whole community to benefit from the expertise both the mentor teacher and preservice teacher bring to the classroom.
A CDU staff member works on-site with Preservice teachers on a one-to-one or small group basis depending on the community. Most teaching and learning, including reading, research, and assignment preparation occurs during this time. Teaching and learning tasks are largely customised and contextualised to ensure they are relevant to each candidate’s teaching context. A key feature of the program is the close integration of theory and workplace learning and practice within a problem-based two-way learning framework.
Indigenous Preservice teachers participate in relevant, formal supervised practicum placements in their workplaces and, wherever possible, in other schools. They are supported by targeted mentoring that informs and reflects the content and theory of each unit.